Leadership

Download two ethics and conduct codes for IT consultants

Can signing a code of ethics really encourage honorable behavior among consultants? Download two firms' conduct codes, and find out how they use them.
 Editor's note: This article was originally published by Beth Blakely on March 11, 2002.

Two TechRepublic members submitted their firms' codes of ethics and conduct for consultants. Download the ethics and conduct codes to see how your company's practices compare to others in the IT consulting industry.

TechRepublic member Subramani Ramakrishnan submitted the "Code of Ethics and Principles" used at his firm. Ramakrishnan is a second-year student in Software Enterprise Management at the Indian Institute of Management in Bangalore, India, and a consultant with IBM Global Services India. He said he has never been asked by a client to break his firm's code. TechRepublic member Darren Chick, a Managing Partner at DM Concepts, Inc. in Philadelphia, submitted his firm's code of conduct. The code is "a basis for a solid communication process," Chick said. In addition to the conduct code, Chick included his firm's list of "minimum expectations" for consultants.

Chick, who has been an IT professional since 1990, said the most common ethical dilemma consultants face is the temptation to perform work they know is not in the best interest of the client. Consultants can earn their clients' trust and give them confidence that they're "getting what they are paying for" by providing services that will serve clients in the long-term, not just inexpensive, fast fixes to short-term problems, Chick said.

"As professional consultants, we're paid for our opinions. That is, we're paid for our experience and what we know," he said. "In completing a project that fails to adhere to a client's long-term interest, are we in breach of our code? Absolutely."

Chick's conduct code includes directives that may seem unrelated to ethical behavior, like logging time daily and submitting a forecasted schedule for the coming week. However, he said those things are important because schedules and deliverables are a consultant's only accountable elements.

"By publishing -- and follow-up reporting -- a schedule, we ensure that clients are getting what they paid for: professional support of an initiative that is clear, consistent, and above board at all times," he said.

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9 comments
Doug Vitale
Doug Vitale

And who thought that business ethics apply only to lawyers, accountants, doctors, and the like? AITP: http://www.aitp.org/organization/about/ethics/ethics.jsp ISC2: https://www.isc2.org/cgi-bin/content.cgi?category=12 IEEE: http://www.ieee.org/portal/pages/iportals/aboutus/ethics/code.html IWA: http://www.iwanet.org/argomento.asp?cat=1 ISACA: http://www.isaca.org/Template.cfm?Section=Code_of_Ethics1&Template=/TaggedPage/TaggedPageDisplay.cfm&TPLID=14&ContentID=7926 How much do you want to bet that you could take all the individual statements in the codes above, and summarize them in four, maybe 5 lines? You know, kind of like what George Carlin did to the 10 Commandments: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SyWEBbFwU1o

Doug Vitale
Doug Vitale

Regarding Mr. Ramakrishnan's set of ethics that are in effect in his organization, some are very practical and worthwhile while others are vague and seem more for show than adherence. For example, these standards have a definite, real world value: ???We listen carefully to those (i.e., the clients) who are concerned about the implications of our recommendations and respond to their concerns. ???We support strong protection of the confidentiality of our clientele's information. ???We respect the competitors involved in our industry and deal with them professionally. ???We adhere to strict informed consent procedures. ???We will abide by the ethical standards of the appropriate association/bodies and, where appropriate, other professional societies to ensure that our services are appropriately used. ???We will avoid conflicts of interest and will not don conflicting roles at the same time (e.g., role of strategic consultants and auditors for the same client at the same time). These points are rather sufficient and you could just stop there, but some of the declarations are unnecessary, redundant, or obvious: ???We respect the power of IT consulting and apply it for the benefit of our clientele -- what does "respecting the power of IT" really mean, and can't it be assumed that it will be used to benefit the client...isn't that what most businesses do, satisfy the customer so you can keep his business and get referrals? ??? We are sensitive to and considerate of the ethical and social issues regarding our consulting engagement. -- without specifying what exactly these "issues" are, this point is too broad and vague to be considered practical. ???We oppose the use of IT consulting to develop weapons. -- what does this mean, that Mr. Krishnaraman's organization will not do business with the military, or any other enterprise that does business with the military? Clarification needed. ???We win engagements on our own merit and will not solicit business by criticism of competitors, self-laudation, or lobbying. -- so when Mr. Krishnaraman has a kick-off meeting with a potential client, he will absolutely do nothing to "sell" his organization and its capabilities? No advertising whatsoever? While Mr. Krishnaraman's standards of ethics have their strong points, Mr. Chick's code of conduct is superior in terms of practicality and specification.

Sterling chip Camden
Sterling chip Camden

"We oppose the use of IT consulting to develop weapons." This seems like a rather random application of personal ethics, IMHO. I oppose the use of IT consulting to develop vampires, myself. Perhaps we should also oppose the use of IT consulting to develop automobiles, cell phones, high fructose corn syrup, and anything else that might potentially kill someone.

boxfiddler
boxfiddler

that IT Consulting is a weapon. Right along with IT, the Internet, PC's, etc... Errr... technology, that is. etu

NickNielsen
NickNielsen

aircraft, baseball bats, hammers, screwdrivers, and hydrogenated vegetable oil.

boxfiddler
boxfiddler

from that... Think of fire as a weapon against cold, certain food borne bacteria, an aid to sanitation. TV, while it could have been more so that it is, a weapon against ignorance. It serves mostly these days as a weapon for inducing consumerism. The Internet as a weapon against overhead - brick and mortar costs vs. web presence costs. Too, the Internet as a weapon against immediate, physically manifest community. How many people aren't gabbing with and helping out their elderly neighbor whilst parked online? Technology - the greatest two-edged sword man has ever wielded. etu

Sterling chip Camden
Sterling chip Camden

... have done more damage throughout the world than some biological weapons.

Sterling chip Camden
Sterling chip Camden

The Internet changes all the rules of engagement. In the process of radical change, there are always gains and losses -- as well as a lot that's indifferent.

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